How We Built the Cubes & Coroplast Cage, Part 2
After creating the cube grid exterior of the cage, the final steps were to form the coroplast base
and add the finishing touches.
Supplies needed: coroplast, ruler/yardstick/tape measure, t-square (optional),
sharpie, utility knife, cardboard scraps, clear wide tape
What you have to do here, basically, is to build a large plastic box to fit inside your cage perimeter.
You will have a distinct advantage if you ever liked to make little paper cubes or boxes as a kid.
You must measure and mark the coroplast for cutting, allowing for the sides to fold up. The fold line
for the sides must be scored underneath (but not cut all the way through). Then you fold the sides up to make
a "box" bottom and tape them in place at the corners.
Note: A utility knife works well for cutting and scoring the coroplast. I recommend putting a
couple layers of cardboard underneath to keep from going through with the knife and damaging your table or floor.
The old adage of "Measure once; cut twice. Measure twice; cut once" is especially true here.
There is a lot of measuring to be done. First, you must measure the inside dimensions of the cage area, within the
grid perimeter. Then you must add on to your measurements to allow for sides approximately 6 inches tall. Next,
you must carefully measure and mark the coroplast for cutting. Repeat these steps if you are adding additional
levels to your cage.
We were able to purchase our coroplast in very large sheets of 4 x 8 feet. However, due to the
large size of our cage base, we needed to tape together two sections of coroplast to make a large enough area
for the cage bottom.
The fact that I had to combine two pieces of coroplast complicated my situation. I had to calculate
how to cut each portion of coroplast so that it would fit together correctly. I also had to save enough coroplast to
cut a piece out for the loft bottom. In addition, the L-shape made things even trickier.
My approach was to carefully measure everything, calculate the dimensions, and then create a small
paper model, approximately to scale. That way, any mistakes could be discovered and corrected easily. One problem
I discovered this way was that the inner corner of my L-shape would end up with a "hole" that would have
to be patched with a small piece of coroplast. I also was able to correct some mistakes in my design before
cutting "the real thing."
I discovered that the most efficient way of laying out the coroplast required limiting my sides
to 5 inches in height, instead of the recommended 6. I've often wondered if the sides were just a bit taller, would
there be any less bedding and "stuff" kicked out onto my carpet?
Once the coroplast bottoms were placed into the cage, we had to finish preparing the cage for its
future residents. We used several layers of newspaper to line the bottom of each cage floor. (After the first use,
we learned that taping the newspaper sections together helped keep them from being pulled up and chewed on by one
of our paper-loving pigs.)
Over the newspaper, we spread a nice, thick layer of CareFresh
bedding and patted it down. I've found that it's best to use about two large
bags of Carefresh for each cage cleaning. With two guinea pigs in such a
large cage, I only needed to clean it about every 3 weeks. Now, with 4 guinea
pigs, I clean it every 1-2 weeks. Sometimes, I clean the hayloft in between
full cage cleanings.
(Update 3/11/05: Recently, I tried something new for bedding.
In between the bottom layers of newspaper and the top layer of CareFresh, I
layer of shredded newspaper (made using our cross-cut paper shredder). It tends
to mix with the top layer, creating a nice, thick fluffy bedding, thicker
than I could afford with CareFresh alone. The CareFresh keeps it absorbent
and smelling fresh, even with my now-four pigs over two weeks.)
Since we had decided to make the loft a hayloft, I put a large bunch of Timothy hay up there and
an extra water bottle. In the lower level, I put the food bowls and another water bottle, plus a container that we fill
with another type of hay (Orchard Grass, usually). This wonderful hay is available from
Oxbow Hay Company.
I chose the back add-in corner as the area in which to place my homemade piggy houses. In addition,
I scattered around a few box "huts," made from upside down cardboard boxes with doorways cut out. These
are constantly rearranged for variety and provide the pigs with entertainment and "safe" rest areas. They
love to run their piggy laps in and out of these boxes. They are constantly rearranging the boxes with their
"head-butting." They like to nibble on the cardboard sides to enlarge the doorways. Whenever I temporarily
remove the boxes, they run around looking for them and are so relieved to have them returned later.
Once the food, water, and shelter items are added, there is only one more "item" to add to
the new cage: your piggies, of course. This is the fun part. They are, at first, overwhelmed with their new environment.
But pretty soon, their curiosity gets the best of them, and they cautiously explore their new surroundings. The first
time our pigs went up the ramp was a little scary, but then after that, they were fine with it. Now they run up and
down the ramp at full speed, usually excited to get new hay, but sometimes just to run as fast as they can for fun.
They really love that ramp!
The total area of our C&C cage is about 30 square feet, plenty of room for my now-three guinea pigs!
The final cost of our cage was about $60. This included 2 boxes of storage cube kits at $20 each
and two 4'x8' sheets of Coroplast at about $10 each. Since I use one-and-a-half bags of CareFresh ($15 each) each
time I do a full cage cleaning, it costs approximately $45 a month to maintain.
I realize that this can be costly, but to me and my pigs it is worth it. If I had a cat or dog, I
would probably incur more overall expenses than with my piggies. Just knowing how happy they are in their wonderful
C&C cage makes me feel like I am giving them the best life possible. They reward me by being so cute and
entertaining and by allowing me to cuddle them on my lap.
Continue on for more photos and descriptions of the cage...